W.i.P in Turmoil as Artistic Visionary Stuart Braunstein Exits the Picture

The Camelot that was W.i.P. is over. Stuart Braunstein, half of the creative crew in a joint centered around creativity, has split the club, leaving behind a trail of bad things to say, bitter regrets, and little else… even the art. According to Stuart, that art which has so wonderfully adorned the art-based club, is being removed today, probably as you read this. His partner Rony Rivellini remains and has been joined by man-about-town Thomas Moller. This story is moving very fast and has lots of moving parts but this is what I got in the last few days.

The core of the beef is the deteriorating relationship between W.i.P. co-owner Barry Mullineaux and Stuart. Stuart claims that "most of my days working for Barry were spent fighting for peoples’ money.” He referred to him as a "non-man" and other terms not appropriate for this family-read column. Stuart insists that he is leaving because he must continue to take the moral high ground and "will not stop doing the right thing.” One of the real sticking points was the damage to a sculpture by Adam Grant.

According to Stuart, all the art was to be insured, but management didn’t live up to their end of that basic requirement and refused to compensate Adam for the loss.  Adam committed suicide after the incident. Stuart would not lay that on Barry Mullineaux’s door, but the implication hovers like cigarette smoke in a pre-Bloomberg nightclub.

Another question left unanswered was whether the entire art installation concept was really a sham to get an expansion of the joint at the hip Greenhouse space approved by the community board. There are lots of accusations being thrown around and this promises to get hotter before cooler heads prevail. Since cool heads are rare at Greenhouse/W.i.P. this might get ugly.  But Thomas Moller is an experienced man-about-town and a gentleman and may prove capable of carrying on the Stuart Braunstein legacy.

I asked Stuart Braunstein what the heck was going on. 

Stuart, what the heck is going on?
The owners of the venue have split the creative team behind W.i.P up. A disconnect between mine and the management’s vision of W.i.P has been occurring for quite some time. The original plan was to change the entire room every five to six weeks in the same manner as galleries do. The owners never supported the plan financially, putting a severe strain on my relationship with the art community. My repeated requests and proposals to execute the plan were never allowed to come to fruition either due to lack of funding or shared passion for art.

In addition, the venue never took out insurance on the work. Several pieces were damaged or destroyed without compensation to the artists. A $40k sculpture by Adam Grant, a talented young artist, was broken in December. Despite repeated requests to make some sort of restitution, none ever came. Rony Rivellini will remain on board as the principle programmer of EMD. Timmy Regisford has invested in a state-of-the-art sound system, which promises to be the best in the city. Kimyon Huggins and Andrew Lockhart, who have worked with Stuart since the beginning, put together a plan for the future of W.i.P. It was turned down.

The work that is currently in W.i.P will be removed since it was entrusted to CH Creations, not W.i.P Management.  The paintings were by some of New York’s greats, Ronnie Curtone, Mike Cockgrill, Rick Prol, Walter Steding, Gaia, Dick Chicken, Spector, Kimyon Huggins, and more. There was at least $500,000 in work in the place; it had the ability to be epic. With Ben Devoe’s help (an artist employed by CH Creations), I financed and built the centerpiece at W.i.P. "The OZ Project" featured a three-dimensional head upon which images were projected, blowing people away. CH Creations would have changed the way that the club and art worlds came together and a lack of any vision from WIP’s management killed that dream. 

CH Creations has a new project in the works that will complete a circle from Collective Hardware to W.i.P. The last two projects were learning experiences, works in progress. The next piece will be a finished work of art. Finally, we will be working with professionals that share our common goals and artistic dreams, a first for the boys from CH Creations. We have had many forces working against our vision for so long… it’s going to feel great to have competent people on our side."

So who’s running the artistic side of it in your absence?
An artist by the name of Thomas Moller, a close friend of a new manager Frank Heidinger, has taken over the creative control of WIP. His first install consists of Brillo pads in the glass display case that is the bar top, replacing the beautiful jewelry by Rachel Brown, which was taken out cause the top of the bar was leaking and would not be fixed by management. Brillo pads are a good answer for an easy fix, just like how all things are handled at WIP. It makes sense to me that this is the direction they would go. I named it Work in Progress but it should now be called NP, No Progress.

How are you taking all this?
I’m in good spirits and relieved that I don’t have to deal with the small penny pinching pettiness of W.i.P management. I just finished my first feature film called Don Peyote with the folks at production company Studio 13 and a music video I directed called "Army of Slaves" for the band PUi just made it to MTV. 

I’m also currently working with Randy Fields to produce a film about Nico from The Velvet Underground. I’m working with Mark Baker; he is producing monthly installs at The Liberty Theater, the first of which was The Best Little Whorehouse in NY; a new one is happening in June. I’ve also just constructed the Highline Zoo with Jordan Betten from Lost Art that has been getting major press. Jordan and I are planning to host performances in the zoo during weekends for all the highline visitors.  I’ve decided to hold a Friday party. I’ll be DJing with Ashley Rae Perry at Danny Kane’s new spot Bishops and Barons, spinning a great mix of new and old cutting edge music for a clientele that is looking for something different. 

Travertine Blowup Brings Out the Lawyers, Mark Baker Swims with Dolphins

So this Travertine/XIX piece I posted Friday seems to have stirred the pot. I think that metaphor is a little weak — it was more like the chubby kid doing a cannonball and drenching the sunbathers by the pool. There’s even a lawyer involved now, although who he represents isn’t clear to me. The weekend was spent conversing through various media with the players involved.

Mark Baker is out in Bali working on some events and swimming with dolphins. Actually, the last correspondence had him too upset to swim with dolphins. Ruben Rivera is off working at W.I.P. and planning moves that will eventually have him on top of the nightlife world. Owner Danae Cappelletto communicated with me via Facebook, which indicates she is back in Australia. So this conversation involves people in exotic Australia, Bali, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg. Now that’s sexy.

Danae was very upset with me, but I gave her the "don’t shoot the blogger" rap, and she apologized and said she was going to send me her side of things today for publication. I did get a letter from a lawyer for "Travertine LLC":

… we insist that you immediately remove the article from your web site and then issue a public retraction.

Had your staff done even a minimal level of fact checking before printing the unfounded and libelous accusations, you would have learned that the content of the article is false. Mr. Rivera, who as his own agenda, resigned from his position in advance of his imminent dismissal for unprofessional conduct and a matter that is being investigated. His quotes are merely the ramblings of a disgruntled, former associate.

Your reported insinuations about Travertine are not only untrue, but have caused and continue to cause damages to Travertine. Worse still, by being a conduit for the public defamation of Travertine, you are effectively interfering with the ongoing operation of the Travertine business.

Danae wasn’t talking lawsuit; she was just asking for her piece to be posted in the interest of clarification. So who knows who’s behind this letter.

Mark Baker has told me he has decided to get out of the project. He seems to be taking the high road here. I love Mark and have always known him to try his best to be a gentleman. I hope he and Ruben kiss and make up. Ruben is out and working and happy. Emails and texts from him are focused on the future and a lesson-learned attitude. I asked Mark if his partner Artan Gjoni was also out. He replied that he hadn’t spoken to him in a few days: "He’s obviously upset surprised and as confused as I am."

Mark wanted to clarify that Ruben quit. I thought that was clear. It said it right up top, first paragraph: "We learn that main man Ruben Rivera has quit and moved over to W.i.P". This is a game of "he said, she said," and as I pointed out to Danae, if everyone would just stop talking to me, I would have nothing to say.

Mark Baker issued his own statement for publication:

Hi steve … After having this distress on my mind for 2 days now I want to respond..so "After reading the piece about XIX steve, I feel there are a couple of things that need to be clarified..I would never normally have this dialogue in a public forum as its just not necessary and usually gets misunderstood., but I have to address your piece as it was incomplete not entirely accurate and insinuated that ruben was kicked out of the deal..WRONG. To start with artan and I were asked to come in by the investor to revamp and relaunch the reataurant and club after a renovation. Artan and ruben to be the 2 lead owner-operators and me in supporting and marketing role…. This was to take place during january and re open for february..we were forming a partnership between us and the current owner was to step aside from operations .BUT , there was so much bad blood between ruben and the current owner dustin, we (artan and I ) tried to bring everyone together to work together , but the daily fights and mistrust between them was insane and apparantly irreparable, I advised ruben to take a break and come back energised and fresh so he could be the partner and operator he always wanted to be.. get his commission on the sale and own a piece of the venue, the attorneys were drawing up the contracts on dec 30th !! On jan 3rd ruben announced he was quiting and would pull the promoters out and sabotage the deal. I guess he just didn’t want to deal with the current owner anymore…he had had enough.. .Let’s be quite clear on THE FACTS… Ruben was NOT pushed out of the deal .. HE QUIT OF HIS OWN FREE WILL.. While we were drawing up a management contract for HIM,ARTAN and MYSELF… He walked away from it and was not cut out of anything.

The whole thing stinks and everyone looses.ruben expects everyone to quit also and walk away or everyone is" NOT LOYAL" .. The staff, the promoters artan me and everyone has to "quit" because ruben has.. I think its crazy as there is always a middle road and ruben for once could have owned his own place, albeit with partners.. Well..welcome to the real world of nitelife where everyone has to have partners.. And you have to work with them and compromise.. Everyone else has to anx does…. That’s life. "My way or the highway" doesn’t work. So EVERONE looses here, I have decided to step away from the deal also at this moment as its just too much drama.. And we don’t want to upset ruben do we.. That’s my piece…. How sad. Could have been great.

The space is still great and most of the players are as well. I suggest that a real-deal sit-down is in order when everyone can be gathered in the same hemisphere. Mark Baker is a gentleman, as is Artan. I have always found Ruben to be wonderful and more than capable. He was doing very well by any standards in a small basement lounge after the restaurant failed. He kept that place afloat and was anxious to continue with Mark and Artan running the restaurant above. Then, this implosion happened. Danae is a sweetheart and a great chef who isn’t the first operator to have a problem getting traction with a restaurant in NYC. We await her statement and are aware of the time differences. Mark Baker and I have been talking as he is getting up and I am crashing and vice versa. He’s swimming with dolphins while apparently some people want me swimming with fishes. Déjà vu all over again.

Namaste from Bondi Beach: Danae Cappelletto Just Wants Peace

So if I’m beating a dead horse, let me know, but I have a feeling the Travertine/XIX space is not dead at all. It is getting more free ink here than the people at Fineline Tattoo are giving out this Saturday in honor of Sailor Jerry’s 101st birthday. I love all the players at Travertine, even the players who aren’t players anymore and possibly never were. It gets confusing as everyone is nice and every story is completely believable. So were’s the beef? I promised the owner and former chef Danae Cappelletto a chance to speak her piece. She only speaks Australian so it was a rough go a couple of times. We were being all Facebook-fuzzy nice when I told her about the lawsuit her company threatened me and Blackbook with in a legal letter put out yesterday. The Facebook exchange went as follows. I will translate when the Australian gets too thick. I’ll also correct some spelling.

i’ve just read the new piece, i got a hand it to you, you do write an intriguing story. Thank you Steve, I hope this all goes to bed soon but in the mean time i do appreciate you giving us the opportunity to respond.
Mark and ruben are friends(of mine) but there is only one truth…i really believe this might serve to clear the air and end up good if egos are put aside… so who over there put the lawyers On me?
oh god no not on you!
i’m putting a statement together for you now, and no the letter was certainly not in any way directed at you x
Well it was sent to bbook… asking for a retraction and removal of post… its all good get me your statement and i will do my best to get it out
The letter was really to stop guys that had nothing to do with the project from jumping on this, i have no idea how that happened its mindboggling!
Here is my statement for you – Thank you again
Steve, you know the funniest thing about all this is, there’s people (Mark Baker) making comments back and forth here that were never involved in the project! its Bonkas!
Honestly, sometimes you have to laugh –and I do appreciate that you are just the messenger. To be honest, with the huge ego’s floating around and all the self-serving misinformation I really don’t want to bore your readers making more corrections. Lawyers do that. I do wish Ruben the best of luck running his new door post.
Our economy and the neighborhood have changed a lot in the last 3 years since we started and I feel your real story will come in due course when the updated concept is revealed by the new team. Namaste – from Bondi
So the letter is not directed at me or bbook but says we …i had it all wrong and wanted us to take it down and print a retraction?????
Well as you can see from the above Mark was not involved in the venue so its all nonsense
Ahh now namaste from bondi is confusing.. there is Bondi in the l.e.s. or an australian reataurant..which bondi? which namaste?… and what you are saying was no deal had been finalized with mark baker
Ok so i assume its spice namaste from bondi beach new south wales
LOL sorry – Namaste (meaning peace) from Bondi Beach yes that is correct nothing had ever been remotely close to finalized with Mark
Namaste is a term used over here to say "peace" and i am in Bondi Beach in Sydney Australia x i’m sorry for the confusion
That Australian sure is a funny language. George Bernard Shaw once said that England and America are "two nations divided by a common language." Maybe that’s all that’s going on here. Maybe a translator is needed to help these people get it all together. Baker wasn’t talking in the same dialect as Ruben. Mark was talking fabulous and wonderful and amazing, lots of jetsetter speak while Ruben was talking L.E.S. street-real.. all about respect, what I’ve done, and can do. Danae and I had a little trouble at first . She lambasted me in Australian from Bondi before we re-upped as great friends and not just Facebook friends. The lawyers are talking in "legaleze," a language only they seem to understand. They seemingly targeted me, when the owner Danae (speaking in Australian) clearly holds me harmless. I had that beef with that other guy saying "Jew" this and "Jew" that, but I can easily also chalk that  to a language barrier. He probably meant no harm, just that where he comes from it’s a common expression.
As the poet Mick Jagger said at that famous Atltamont concert right before, or was it after a biker stabbed someone who had a gun, "Brothers and sisters, come on now! That means everybody just cool out. We can cool out … why are we fighting?" The biker and the gun-toter were speaking a common language and got right to the point. Everybody understood what they were saying without all these words. What are they all fighting about? As Danae said (in Australian) "It’s Bonkas!". Nobody is talking about what the fighting stems from. It seems to be all egos on the surface and maybe that’s all it is… slices of pie not being divided as everyone likes and power shifting around and not being clearly defined… and maybe that language thing too. Well, anyway, Namaste from BBurg!

Ruben Rivera & Mark Baker Separately Address Their Recent Bust Up

Nightlife is sometimes a game of musical chairs. Sometimes those chairs move around, go up and down, disappear two at a time, or even come back. As my 8- year-old-niece might say, "It gets wonky." That Travertine, XIX space is being redefined once again. As reported here earlier, Mark Baker and Artan Gjoni came on to finally get the restaurant working right, but now we learn that main man Ruben Rivera has quit and moved over to W.i.P., which just gets better and better. Ruben will man the door and add his flair to the totally hip spot. He is the real deal, one of the most talented people in the business. I adore Mark Baker and Artan, but am leery about them going forward without Ruben.

Ruben took Traverine/XIX from the throes of defeat into the winners circle. It was a great place to hang. The crowd, music, and ambiance were exactly right—hot, cool, forward, new, and yet real old school New York nightlife. It was all Ruben. The new investors brought into to invigorate the space proved to be less than cool. I met one of these dudes in the kitchen space for a little meeting a couple weeks back. His language was "Jew" this and "Jew" that about some problem he was having paying off a debt that affected his credit with a liquor distributor. It was quite surreal. I looked at my watch to see what year it was, and pondered if I was in NYC or a lot south of the Jersey Shore. Suddenly, he realized I might be Jewish. I saw the revelation hit his addled brain and made it easy on him. I looked him in the eye with a wry smile attached and said, "Oh don’t worry, I’m not Jewish." I let a pause get ripe, and then stared into his eyes hard and said, "But my mother was." This dude may prove to be a problem, as Mr. Baker and Artan bring their brand of sophistication into the space. Ruben had to leave. The atmosphere was a little too weird for me, and I can handle most weird. I’d ask for an apology but then I’d have to communicate with this fellow again and anyway, I’m pretty thick-skinned. I wasn’t surprised yesterday when I heard Ruben had enough. I caught up with everyone except that Jew-spew guy. I understand his point of view already. First Ruben, then Baker.

You left XIX. Why?
I simply felt like I created a brand that had legs and value, and the new investors/partners had a different plan that did not coincide with my vision, or the vision and reputation XIX stood for. In other words, XIX represented me. Yt represented what NYC nightlife used to be when it was free and live. Their new vision had nothing to do with that. My feeling was, why fix something that ain’t broke? But you can’t win ‘em all.

It was a tough haul, but you really did well there. What were your greatest  accomplishments?
It was rough at first, but thanks to the help of Jonny Lennon, 4AM, and DJ Sinatra, we pulled it off. I sat in that empty room and thought of all the amazing parties I’ve been to in NYC over the years, and what they all had in common was the energy. I feel like if you let people feel free, they have less frustrations. The purpose of a nightclub is to leave your worries at the door and have a great time celebrating life. Why not do it in a welcoming environment instead of the normal oppressed setting? I feel like I proved to myself that I can do something different in NYC. I didn’t have to do what everybody else was doing. The response has been amazing. Bespoke group Cody, Doug and Brooks Rand believed in the venue and pushes it hard. Not many people involved, but always the right people. That’s what counts.

Is that hood viable? Kenmare goes, now this—although Jonny over at Goldbar is still good.
The hood is great, but it’s a lot different from any other hood in NYC that offers nightlife. It’s a real community. People know each other in the east side of town. They support each other. A great percentage of XIX’s success last year was the fact that I catered to the people in the community. I didn’t flood the place with out-of-towners. Bottom line is Jonny Lennon was there first he worked out the kinks established himself at Goldbar and allowed me to eat there with him. I’m forever grateful to that man.

How would you describe the nightlife brass ring you are looking for?
I will own my own venue outright, with no other opinions on how to do it but mine and my team’s. There’s no better gift in life then to be able to afford to be free creatively. Oppression is the enemy for people like us, Steve, but you already know that. A very important lesson learned is never partner up with people that are not on your level. It creates jealousy, and be careful who you throw a bone too—it’s a business filled with opportunists. Most people are trying to use people to get what they want. Me, I always thought it was about the love and music.

I caught up with Mark Baker, who is in Indonesia doing Mark Baker things. It must be noted that both Mark and Ruben and I are close friends and I hate to see this kind of stuff happening.

Tell me about this power move. You and Artan at XIX/Travertine. Ruben is out. What’s up with that?
I wouldn’t call it a power move. It’s quite simple. Artan and I have always loved the Travertine space. It was beautifully built and the food was good, but way too fussy and with expensive ingredients. A less than perfect marketing/PR plan and some plain bad luck, and it was destined to close. There was no way it could have survived in that hood—the lounge was always an afterthought for them and didn’t have any synergy with upstairs, so all in all, the whole thing didn’t gel and the restaurant closed. Ruben put his heart and soul into managing and promoting XIX, and had some great nights going, but in the bigger picture of creating a profitable biz without the restaurant, it just wasn’t realizing its full potential. An investor was brought in to redo the space, take out the current owners, and the plan is to renovate, bring a great chef in to make a tastier, simpler, and less expensive menu, make the restaurant accessible to both locals, late-nighters, and  a cool, chic clientele that can enjoy the lounge too. A great cocktail menu, parties, events, and a fashion week launch will bring this venue to where it should be. Ruben was asked if he would like to be a partner, but I think his history with the previous owner was so strained that he just didn’t want to deal anymore. It’s a shame. I love Ruben and his efforts at carrying XIX were immense. I think he just burnt out on the whole thing, so he quit. Life goes on.

Is it going to be renamed?
It will be renamed, redesigned, exorcised (to get rid of the bad energy, lol) and relaunched with a fresh new look and some exciting stuff. All will be revealed closer to fashion week when we relaunch. It’s a diamond of a venue, intimate, sexy, cool and the right size and layout.

Any players besides you guys?
I don’t really want to name names right now, but all the usual suspects are inquiring. We will be putting a fresh new team together with a couple of surprises. I think the space needs a break from the attention its been getting. It’s cold and it’s January. Spring will bring a fresh new outlook. 

Now this sounds really cozy, but it actually is kind of not. My sources say Ruben was doing great in the XIX lounge space, but the upstairs restaurant needed some real players. He solicited Mr. Baker and Artan. Now he’s out, and that doesn’t sit right. Somebody convinced management or management convinced Baker and Artan that life could go on without Ruben. It was clearly Ruben who made the connections. He’s too much of a stand-up guy to complain.

A few years ago, I was brought to Vegas by a major NY club player to design a restaurant at a famous casino. A few weeks in, my boy was out, but he didn’t know it. The casino went behind his back and asked me if I would go on when they booted him. I replied with only a strange story:

"A man walks into a bar and sees a hot girl and sits next to her. After a few minutes, he asks her, Would you sleep with me for a million dollars? She stares down her swizzle stick and replies, For a million dollars I would. He turns away, and a few minutes later, he turns to her again and asks, Hey, would you sleep with me for a hundred dollars? She gets agitated, and asks, What type of girl do you think I am? He calmly replied, We already established that, now we’re just negotiating price"

They understood that it was a no go for me. I wouldn’t betray my friend for a fee, hefty as it was. The story said I was willing to sell my soul and be a whore if the money was undeniable because then a friend would understand. I’m not sure what went down behind the scenes, and Ruben’s back. I do know that he is out and they are in. Maybe Baker’s and Artan’s price was met and Ruben will understand. I’m weird though with shit like this. Sometimes people refer to me as a stand-up guy. The thing about being a stand-up guy is sometimes you got to stand up and walk away when a stranger is trying to separate you from a friend for a few bucks. Be careful, Mr. Baker and Mr Artan. If it was done to Ruben it can be done to you. Mark, what happens when they come for Artan? Hey, no worries as you said—life goes on.

Taylor Mead at Last Night’s Bingo, Addressing the Adam Hock-Prince Pierre Casiraghi Brawl

The Academy Awards were delicious. I enjoyed the show, the choice of movies, the actors featured, and most of Billy Crystal’s schtick. I especially enjoyed watching it at home with delicious popcorn and other treats and my delicious Amanda. Foregoing the bull-chit banter and bad hors d’oeuvres at some Oscar party is the way to go. Although I was aware of The Artist for eons before it came out and wanted to go day 1… life got in the way and so I vowed to go last night and nothing was going to stop me.

Monday is of course BINGO night at Bowery Poetry Club. If you want to whack me or serve me with papers or get my autograph, you can find me there. I sit up front and personal so I can catch every delicious word from co-hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson. This Monday night happening needs no plug from me as it sells out virtually every night and has for years. I arrive very early to wind down from my day jobs and  to catch 87-year-old Taylor Mead. Taylor is best known as an Andy Warhol luminary, but he is so much more. It wasn’t Andy that made Taylor fabulous…he was fabulous so Andy wanted to have him around. Google him…find out more…or come around 6pm on any Monday to catch him reading from his life’s work.
One of the highlights of Taylor’s schtick is the reminiscing about his life less ordinary. Last night, he told of a play he was in in Boston back in the ’70s. He found himself late-night in Chinatown at a table with actor John Cazale (Fredo in The Godfather, Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon) and Meryl Streep. Meryl was dating Mr. Cazale, who died young, of cancer. She was unknown and quiet then and Taylor thought she was sort of dull, "like a statue." He lamented not quite breaking it to the big time because "I never sold out… Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep all sold out. I never sold out…I tried to… I spent three months with her, everyday." It continues like this for around 45 minutes as the BINGO crowd comes in and are blown away by this frail man and his sharp mind. A satchel containing loose notes sits beside him while a small boombox plays Mingus, to underscore his dirty poems. He randomly pulls art and poetry and notes from the satchel, reads them, and goes off on delicious tangents. He says that Harvard is taking his papers this summer. They currently occupy garbage bags in his cramped apartment. He says he is hesitating, as a friend has told him Harvard will just bury the work. Talk raced from the 30th anniversary of the Faukland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain and chance sexual encounters of days of yore. Taylor has been particularly brilliant recently as the full room seems to have inspired him. Let me know if you’re coming and I’ll save you a seat.
Murray Hill will be around for a bit but will soon scoot off to tour with Dita Von Teese on the West Coast. BINGO on Mondays at Bowery Poetry Club is the best game in town. After BINGO, I scooted off to see The Artist and, of course, was blown away. The big movies at this years Oscars were not box office bonanzas. The Artist has taken in under $40 million, The Descendents with Clooney star power under $80 million, and films like Iron Lady and The Tree of Life appealing to smaller audiences than the big films of years ago, like Titanic, Avatar, Star Wars and all that romantic comedy stuff that make bank. For instance, Bridesmaids is up around $288 million. Hollywood gold went to more artistic fare, less commercial offerings. The art of making big money on your art is a very Warholian concept.  I’m going to buy Taylor a drink next Monday and discuss.
I have been asked to write something clever about the brawl between clubber Adam Hock and Prince Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco at The Double Seven last week. I started my research by calling The Double Seven’s Mark Baker to get the inside scoop. Baker was speechless – not a common occurrence for him. He referred me to Jeffrey Jah who reportedly was there when the shit hit the fan-tastic Prince and his entourage or vice versa, depending on whose PR has the ear of what publication. I have been told there was blood but not a lot of real guts displayed by anyone involved. A big guy hit a famous, fabulous, and rich guy and others meekly or weakly got involved. My old pal Sal Strazzullo is the attorney that will try to help Adam Hock stay out of jail and not have to hock everything he owns to settle a possible lawsuit. Sal said in the Daily News that the Prince and his pals "think New York is their honeycomb. They think they can come here and do whatever they want".
I’ve never been a fan of Adam Hock but don’t have anything against him either, but the spin Strazullo puts on it makes Adam seem like a hero in the eyes of the hoi polloi. He is our champion. It was almost his sacred duty punching out those rich famous young people making all that noise. Sal continued: "They wanted some recognition [from the women] and it happened because of that. My client acted in self -defense, it was an unprovoked attack. I don’t know why Mr Casiraghi got jealous about my client – he is from a humble background." He added: "My client is not Bruce Lee… These four guys are trust-fund babies who think the world is owed to them. They are like spoiled brats."
I decided not to look for the truth. My time would be better served by ignoring this raging bull-chit and seeing another movie nominated for the Oscars, like Iron Lady. I think Margaret and probably Meryl could kick all their asses. If I got it right, according to the attorney, it seems that Adam Hock did what we all secretly yearn to do: what needed to be done and about time at that. He did it for us all. Those royals and their buddies and their beautiful women better behave…or else. There might be some truth in that, but on the other hand Adam might have actually behaved badly. I won’t seek the truth because I suspect that old Oscar buddy Jack Nicholson got it right… I can’t handle the truth. Now that’s entertainment.

Party On: Ball Awards and Some Scottish Love

The Ball Awards held in the The Lab Banquet Hall on Fulton Street, Brooklyn has left me limp. (Please, no wisecracks from my ex-wives.) It was a reassuring chaotic happening. It said that the world, as I know it and love it and live for, can and does indeed exist…albeit sometimes in Bed-Stuy, and other times in those places not on the beaten-down path of nightlife. It was thousands of people gathering to hug, kiss, and scream for joy as the most limber and creative amongst them competed for prizes and status. The outsider who accompanied me was amazed, dazed, and sometimes confused, but she was not alone. I was often brought to tears by the magnificent mayhem, and the love poured at us and at everyone in attendance.

I waited with the crowds outside for the doors to finally open around 11:30pm. We were told to be there at 9:30pm, but have some experience with these affairs; nothing was going to happen until midnight. The cold air had us all huddled up and tight as the line went way down the block. Little skirmishes with line-cutters were dealt with Ball banter from attendees who sometimes looked thugish or shady on the outside, but of course were as sweet as can be once they let their masks down — not that they can’t roll if they have to. The ballroom life brings many who traveled a rough road to find acceptance. Sharp tongues managed by sharp minds gave shade like an elm tree to the misbehaviors. Someone in the crowd scolded a young transgressor, telling him he could "get Brooklyn-hurt, not Jersey-hurt" if he continued to offend. Once inside, a female staffer who could kick my ass with one hand tied behind her back, searched me good. That gal knows more about me than half the
dates I ever went with. It hurt, which means it must have been good for me. I wonder if it was good for her as well. 
Ball Awards
A 6-foot-3-inch man — who was more of a lady than most of the security who harassed her — stood her ground at the inside ropes. She wasn’t going to take the laughter or put-downs and got in their faces and demanded a manager. She got an apology. She was magnificent.The mandatory coat check was $3, but you could pay $5 and keep your outerwear. I knew I wasn’t in Manhattan anymore. Inside, people were complaining about the $10-a-glass Hennessy, reaffirming we weren’t in Manhattan anymore. The Lab is an amazing room and a brilliant choice for this affair. I have been to many Balls, but don’t remember one as fun and exciting as this. I sat with the wonderful Princess Magnifique and Punk Rock Frankie Magnifique. Frankie hadn’t been out in a while, so a lot of people came by to say hello and pay respect. The Latex Ball is coming August 18th at Roseland Ballroom, I believe. Cancel all vacations or other plans as this event; this culture must become a part of you.
Tonight, Mr. Mark Baker has implored me to attend "From Scotland With Love: The Tenth Anniversary Show." He refered to it as "Dressed to Kilt" and I thought that was clever. It’ll be at The Liberty Theater and starts at 7:30pm. I will, of course, be at BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club and unable to attend, but as I am a supporter of all things Baker, I had to tell you about it. The affair benefits The Wounded Warrior Project and Cash For Kids. Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin McKidd are expected to show.

13 Questions for Friday the 13th

It is Friday the 13th and, yes, I am getting a "13 ball" tattooed on my arm from Magic Cobra Tattoo Society.  The line on Driggs and South 1st was long and totally fun for the inexpensive permanents. They ink for 24 hours starting at midnight and I gave them mixed CDs for the occasion …some biker/tattoo music to ease the pain.

It may be Triskaidekaphobia that has me not willing to write today, to commit to a story, say anything I might regret later. I was up until 8am at Magic Cobra haven and woken at 7am Thursday morning. That question from Dirty Harry keeps banging around in my head "…But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?’” Well I feel anything but lucky today and the entire world away from my pillow feels like a .44 Magnum; I am absolutely feeling like a punk, so forgive me if I keep this to 13 possibly dumb questions with uneven answers.

Q1) Was it the luck of the Irish that got that fabulous Ballinger crew open almost immediately at Webster Hall after a stabbing at a hardcore show, while  Greenhouse/W.i.P. got shuttered harder and longer for a bottle-throwing incident?
A1) I think it’s a matter of a long history of working well with the community that has Webster doing its thing, while Greenhouse has been way more annoying to some. The fact that the Webster stabber and stabbees were white and the bottle throwers and brawlers at Greenhouse were black never crossed my mind.

Q2) Are the rumors that Pink Elephant may close for August true, and was it bad luck or bad planning to open a Euro-based club in the beginning of the summer or was it planned like this all along?
A2) I’m too tired to ask them the question today and you know what will be said anyway.

Q3) Is The Double Seven just being unlucky or is it the weather, or is it just fabulous and not as confused as my personal confusion perceives it?  A source who made me swear to say nothing about what he told me about The Double Seven will be happy that I respect his wishes.
A3) Mark Baker and crew will tell me how wonderful it is over there if I had the strength to pick up the phone so why should I bother to call?

Q4) So why can’t they call it Bungalow 8 and what did Amy Sacco ever do to be the focus of such silliness?
A4) She is so fabulous and smart and fun and if they want to call it "8"…wink, wink, I’m going to go anyway. Hey, they can call it 13 and I’m there.

Q5) Is the Xtravaganza Ball really going to happen next Sunday, July 22, and have they really asked me to be a judge?
A5) OMG ! Yes ! What to wear? I must look …legendary.

Q6) Have those wonderful and erotic Domi Dollz fallen into a pile of good luck now that every skirt on the planet has read Fifty Shades of Grey?
A6) I missed their monthly soiree/seminar this past Thursday at the Museum of Sex but predict they may soon need to get a bigger room to whip those novices into shape.

[Editor’s Note: I went, and it was amazing. Those Dollz know how to whip you and their leather-collared, half-naked boys into shape.]

Q7) Am I really going to do 13 of these?
A7) No, seven is more than half of 13, I think… and considering the condition my tattoo is in, it’s all you can expect. I’m going to crash…get my tattoo from Adam Korothy at Magic Cobra, rinse, and repeat.

The Night Starts Early With Magnum Mondays

The word "nightlife" is becoming increasingly obsolete or at least inadequate to describe what is quickly becoming complete lifestyle control. Nightlife used to be a 10pm to 4am affair with the worst of us sneaking off to after-hours bars. Many nightlife-style restaurants catered to the clubbers, but there were very few which offered dining and dancing. The black and white movie clubs always did that back in an era where the swells wore tuxedos and gowns to go out. As recently as 2009, brunch became part of the game as nightlifers flocked to be together even during hours when they could actually see each other. Brunch isn’t just lunch in nightlife terms. There must be a DJ and dancing gals and standing on tables, and it isn’t over until a hundred trees-worth of napkins are tossed in the air.

Now comes Magnum Mondays at Celeste Fierro’s STK Midtown. Richie Romero, Mark Bau, and Craig Molesphini are taking the nightlife experience and providing it at dinner. The requisite DJ (in this case Sinatra), dancing girls, and a pairing with a different model agency each week is geared for the local after-work business crowd that occupies the nearby buildings so tall that even Superman couldn’t leap over them with a single bound. The Magnum Monday schtick is to encourage people to buy magnums of wine, champagne, and liquor, which, I guess, is to encourage socializing amongst tables. They are boasting about a Mad Men-meets-models environment. It all starts this coming Monday.

As I am a believer in all things Mark Baker, I will mention his huge Friday soiree, The Best Little Whorehouse in New York production/party this Friday. This shebang is happening at The Liberty Theater, which they say is "now fully operational." There are a slew of DJs and promises of all sorts of debauchery, scandal, and sin. Sounds like my second marriage. His last galas there—The Gangs of New York and Dressed to Kilt—were smashing successes, so here you go.

The Poor & Rich: the NYC Homeless, Champagne at Winston’s, Mark Baker’s Birthday

The night started at Winston’s, where champagne flowed and bon vivants were on their best behavior. I was then caught in that time trap that we Williamsburgers sometimes find ourselves in. It was too early for anything else, but going back to Brooklyn might end up being it for the night. That wouldn’t do: I had places to be. So I decided to take in the glorious night and walk down 14th Street to The Darby and Snap to await Amanda. I would meet my better half there before heading to Meatpacking. The swells and damsels in fine dresses of Winston’s were replaced by desperate men and damsels in distress pleading for anything I had and they didn’t. The $1,000 bottle of champagne set, $1000 shoe sets’ banter echoed in my ear as I ran out of change fast and decided I couldn’t feed the world. Who can.

Maybe a billionare like Mayor Bloomberg could make a dent on this tragedy under our feet. Maybe the city could do more. It got less insane as I moved off Union Square – but still, the hands were stretched for hand-outs.There was a party of some sorts by the Salvation Army Headquarters: dogs and sleeping bags and lots of young homeless drinking inexpensive bottles of swill. I read on my expensive phone earlier that our Mayor had banned food donations to homeless shelters because "the city can’t assess their salt, fat, and fiber content." The people I passed didn’t have calorie counters on their phones. Billionaire Mayor is worried about the nutritional needs of people who are rummaging through garbage and afraid of the places the city provides for them. I needed a drink and some thicker skin. I hated that my eyes avoided them, that I had moves with my hand and arms and head that could tell them I wasn’t going to be helping them.

The long legs of the gorgeous were supporting expensive smiles outside The Darby. The gays going into Stash’s gay night soiree were ear-to-ear as well. A couple of dozen Snap sports bar patrons were watching millionaires run around with balls. The spring is just born and the warm weather will soon bring the desperate hordes from everywhere. It’s beginning to feel like a Steinbeck tome out there. The tourists who support our economy will soon be here in herds, taking serpentine routes around the indigent to get to a place to spend $500 on a bottle of booze. I was swept up by my Amanda, and we politely passed on the cheap flowers from the more tycoon-ish poor. I remembered another article I had read earlier in the day which said that the Bloomberg administration was going to implement a policy where single adults would have to prove that they had no place else to stay but in a shelter. The people I passed could barely prove they were alive. How could they prove anything. Are their clothes smelly or torn enough, their demeanor below the civilized line the Mayor and his set have carved in the concrete? Can they sell their desperation enough to get in. Who are the doormen at these shelters? Will it be "Sorry, you’re dressed too nicely to get in?" I guess the flower peddlers wouldn’t qualify and the old lady with the old coffee cup with change in it wouldn’t either; they’re way too prosperous. That cup and it’s contents prove she can pay for a cot in a flophouse where she will surely meet some great people who will entertain her with threats and possibly worse. Maybe this isn’t the forum. Maybe my nightlife column should ignore what my eyes couldn’t ignore as I traveled from one heaven to the next.

The Double Seven opened up its doors for me and mine. Their door policies being the polar opposite of the Mayor’s. You had to have loot or be someone who can drive their brand to get in here. Single adults are encouraged. Money gets you in, not out. I was there for my dear friend Mark Baker’s 50th birthday bash. Mark will forgive me for using his article to air out my sudden conscious. He has a heart of gold and I’m sure feels the same sadness at the madness all around us.

Six bottles of Beau Joie Champagne were delivered to his tables; beautiful girls and sparklers and all the fluff that goes with a good time. The crowd was known to me, veterans of nightlife and the upwardly mobile, partying like it’s no longer 1999. All around the Goose and the champagne was helping the gathering affirm their good life. DJ Elle was playing a superb set – music that most of clubland has given up for pop mediocrity, offerings spewed by bad boys with laptops. Elle can go. She has the taste, the style, the guts, and more importantly the backing of the club to play the good stuff. I’m sure some of the crowd was soon rushing off to somewhere after for their Rihanna fixes, but while they were at The Double Seven, their ears were to be enlightened.

Mark Baker turning 50 is unbelievable. The energizer bunny of nightlife, Mr. Baker had an earlier go of it at the Liberty Theater for the launch of Malibu Red, with Ne-Yo performing. He’s off to Miami now to continue his celebration. There he will hold court at the Raleigh Hotel for this Music Loves Fashion thing. I have known Mark a long time. Our old dogs played with each other on Hamptons beaches a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when they were alive and young, when we were also younger. He is a young man compared to me. I told him I have shoes that are 50 and, sadly or wonderfully, it’s almost true. He is a gentleman who deserves all that the world has to offer. Seeing him smile as all the love, affection, and attention came to him last night put a smile on my face. Cameras jumped up to catch THAT event.

I asked Mark about hitting the half-century mark.

"First I never even thought I’d live past 40 so making a half century is just a bonus to me lol, I feel better than ever (and cutting some bad things out of my life have made things WAY better) …..no more sweating the small stuff as everything WILL be ok, we’ve made it this far so stressing over bs just isn’t necessary, I cherish and value the LONGTERM friends I’ve made over the years and even laugh harder with a couple that I’ve scrapped with, life is good, business is great and gf relationships .. Well you know how they go in this business lol.its always a work in progress (isn’t there a club called that ? Lol….I’m blessed to have the life I have and I work hard at keeping things as simple and drama free as possible and  happy day to day…Just have to rememember …"LIFE…IS GOOD"…:-).
Ps ! I’m celebrating with a four day marathon party starting on wednesday at the liberty theater and the double seven and ending in miami on saturday with a pool party at the RALEIGH..your welcome to join….if you can keep up….lol"